The USDOJ issued an Opinion on August 8, 2019 in which it concluded that the educational and special medical needs of a child, who have serious health conditions as certified by a health care provider, are a qualifying reason to take intermittent FMLA leave. By way of background, the Opinion is based on a mother’s employer who allowed her to use intermittent FMLA leave to take her children to medical appointments, but denied her request to use it for attending IEP meetings. IEP meetings were attended by a speech pathologist, school psychologist and occupational therapist and/or a physical therapist employed by the school district. These meetings were held four times per year to review the students’ education and medical needs. The USDOJ concluded that her attendance at the IEP meetings is essential to her ability to provide appropriate physical and psychological need to her children. The mother attends the meetings to help make decisions concerning children’s medically-prescribed speech, physical, and occupational therapy. In addition, the USDOJ stated that the child’s doctor need not be present at the IEP meetings in order for the leave to qualify for intermittent FMLA leave.
What does this mean for employers?
Employees who attend IEP meetings may use intermittent leave provided under FMLA. As an employer, you may already allow your employees time off to attend school-related activities, but this Opinion solidifies the DOJ’s position, particularly in caring for children with special needs and attending a child’s IEP meetings.
As always, ND&S is here to answer any questions you may have about this recent USDOJ Opinion.